Every day we face the problem of finding convenient parking spots central to our end destination. The increasing population density and number of vehicles in big cities makes it increasingly difficult to find free sites as well as generates constant traffic jams. These issues lead to an increase in air pollution throughout the cities and consequently a rise in discomfort among citizens. Although specific regulated parking places have been created for disabilities, residents, and load/unload, these regulations are not always followed and respected by inhabitants.
Even though municipalities have created regulated parking areas, the problem requires new solutions. Fortunately, new technologies have been created to address these issues. The internet of things applied to cities now makes it possible to control who parked in each spot, and whether or not they meet the stipulated times and areas, ultimately saving the citizens time and the cities money.
The proposals of Municipalities: Are they effective?
Municipalities have made public parking issues an important part of the mobility policy in cities. Some of the actions that are usually developed for urban centers include: defining authorized areas and maximum parking time in each sector, reserving places for the disabled, loading and unloading areas, adjusting the service prices, and encouraging more public transport usage.
In recent decades, governments have implemented various measures to alleviate the problem of traffic, lack of parking places, and pollution. Here are some examples:
- In Athens, car traffic was restricted to a central area in 1982;
- Stockholm was also one of the first cities to establish a limited traffic zone in 1996;
- Since 2008, Germany has required drivers to have an environmental license plate to acquire access to green areas in the cities;
- Italy has restricted access to ancient centers of major cities during business hours.
These solutions were combined with parking control mechanisms to not only achieve a reduction in the flow of vehicles in the busiest areas of cities, but also to assure that the vehicles entering are able to park.
New problems, new solutions
Despite these advances, new problems have emerged: if parking areas are to be used correctly, effective communication is imperative. The user should know where to park, how long they can stay, where and how to pay. Additionally, there is the issue concerning the way in which the council can know and control if the parking places are being used appropriately.
In many instances, a driver will park on a site reserved for the disabled and will not realize it, or a tourist will park there because they are not aware of the rules of parking areas reserved for residents. Fraud is another major drawback for municipalities. Cases in which users can break the rules and not pay for the parking time are very difficult to control by a traffic officer or other precarious systems, opening the door to fraudulent mindsets.
The internet of things applied to smart cities generate possible solutions to alleviate these problems. The sensors that detect in real time the occupancy of parking spaces and then translate that data into information for citizens and the administration to utilize is a prime example of this system. This information is then integrated with the customer’s payment information, policy, and specific uses, making it possible to recognize when the stipulated rules are being followed and when they are violated. Cities like Santa Barbara D’Oeste in Brazil or Nice already use this technology. As a result, these cities have managed to optimize their management which in turn caused an increase in the correct use of the regulated parking and mobility throughout each city. Other cases like Madrid or London apply different measures with the same objective: to improve the quality of life of citizens. Let’s see how they have done this.
Santa Bárbara D’Oeste (Brasil): sensors that control the use of each spot
The challenge of Madrid: pollution control
London: cameras that recognize cars license plates